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STARKVILLE, Miss. - Knile Davis rushed for two touchdowns and added the game-winning 7-yard touchdown reception in double overtime as Arkansas beat Mississippi State 38-31 at Davis Wade Stadium.
Davis, a sophomore, rushed for a career-high 187 yards on 30 carries as the No. 13 Razorbacks won their fifth consecutive game overall.
Arkansas led 31-21 before Vick Ballard’s 4-yard touchdown run with 4:24 remaining pulled the No. 21 Bulldogs within a field goal. Mississippi State got that kick from Derek DePasquale on a 25-yarder as time expired in regulation.
The drive began at the Arkansas 46 following a Davis fumble with less than two minutes remaining. In addition to his three touchdowns, Davis had two fumbles lost.
Ballard, who finished with 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns, fumbled away the Bulldogs’ first possession in overtime when a hit by Jerico Nelson jarred loose the ball, which went out of the endzone for a touchback. Arkansas couldn’t capitalize, however, as Zach Hocker missed a 39-yard field goal that would have given the Razorbacks the win.
Arkansas (9-2, 5-2 SEC) got the ball first in the second overtime and took the lead on Ryan Mallett’s pass to Davis, the first receiving touchdown of his career.
Mallett finished the game completing 17 of 26 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns. He was also intercepted once.
The Bulldogs got as far as the 11-yard line during their half of the second overtime session, but Chris Relf was sacked by Tenarius Wright to end the game.
Arkansas built a 14-7 lead on a 62-yard touchdown run by Davis and a 25-yard touchdown reception by D.J. Williams in the first quarter. That lead didn’t hold, however, as the Bulldogs used a pair of Ballard touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 21-17 halftime lead.
That was still the score when Arkansas safety Elton Ford forced and cornerback Darius Winston recovered a Mississippi State fumble at the Razorbacks 22 late in the third quarter. Arkansas was backed up on the play, though, when Anthony Leon was ejected for throwing a punch at Bulldogs receiver Chad Bumphis.
It wouldn’t matter as Mallett hit Jarius Wright on the ensuing play for an 89-yard touchdown pass to give the Razorbacks a 24-21 lead with 2:03 left in the third.
Arkansas would add to that lead with Davis’ second touchdown run from a yard out early in the final frame. Davis eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing for the season during the game. In the last five games he has 737 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Razorbacks have now won 11 of the last 12 meetings with Mississippi State. It was the third time the two schools have played an overtime game in Starkville. Arkansas needed just one extra period to beat the Bulldogs here in 1996 and 2000.
The Razorbacks improved to 9-2 all-time in overtime contests.
Arkansas now looks ahead to a rivalry game with No. 5 LSU (10-1, 6-1) at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium in what might turn out to be a play-in game for the Sugar Bowl.
For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.